I got mail today:
“NotchUp is a new way to manage your career. Instead of YOU having to sort through hundreds of job postings, NotchUp enables top companies to find you and pay you to interview for available jobs. It’s 100% free to join and use.”
I would probably have scrapped such an email as spam without giving it a second thought, should I not have received the invitation from a reputable business contact of mine. With a closer look, NotchUp seems to be an interesting, yet controversial yet-another-social-network.
The concept is based on the tenet that the companies that are recruiting hard-to-find professionals would be willing to pay for a chance to interview those who are talented but content with their current job, thus bypassing the headhunter middleman. For the passive jobseekers, this turns the table around: the company is not only looking for them but also paying for their valuable time to overcome the inherent inertia of candidates to even listen what the company has to offer.
As sound as the idea may sound, I have some doubts about its viability. First of all, it provides the “jobseekers” an apparent opportunity for fraudulent “knocking down” with the interviews: thanks for the interview (and the money), but no thanks. On the other, the companies will get an opportunity to “interview” their competitors’ employees for a modest fee without necessarily intending to recruit anyone.
Also, nothing prevents those “desperate out-of-work employees going hat-in-hand” from signing up to the service. In fact, it seems likely that many not-so-professional opportunists occupy NotchUp due to its generous scheme that promises a 10 % commission of an interview fee collected by someone you have invited to the service. It is tempting to send the invitation to as many people as possible, notwithstanding their eligibility.
It may be that NotchUp thereby waters down its very idea and turns into just another job board or professional network. However, their aggressive viral marketing will make sure they get something that is very valuable for a Web 2.0 startup in its own right: a massive database of jobseekers as well as their connections (fetched from LinkedIn!). Something Google or Yahoo might be very interested in…
In his book Brain of the Firm (1972), Stafford Beer postulates The Viable System Model, or VSM, a cybernetic model of the organizational structure of an autonomous system. It identifies the necessary and sufficient communication and control systems that must exist for any organization to remain viable in a changing environment. The model is based on the tenet that an effective organization should maximize the freedom of its participants, while fulfilling its purpose as a whole.
The VSM consists of five functional elements, which Beer calls Systems 1–5.
System 1 embraces the fundamental operations within a viable system. It interfaces with the operational environment and is autonomous in its own right. Thereby, it includes the management of its respective operations. An organization may contain a number of S1s, each providing a distinct product or service.
Systems 2–5 constitute the management “meta-system” that enables the operation of the entire organization.
System 2 is about coordinating the activities of S1s. By providing stabilizing and coordinating facilities such as scheduling and standardization of information, it dampens the inter-S1 oscillations.
System 3 controls S1s on an everyday basis as well as supervises the coordination activities of S2. The management processes of S3 are concerned with short-term, immediate management issues such as resource provision. The control is mainly exerted through vertical command channels, but S3 may also directly monitor S1, e.g. by intermittent audits. These direct monitoring operations are referred to as System 3* (Three-Star).
System 4 performs intelligent adaptation of the organization to its environment. It plans organizational development in the light of external environmental changes. To this end, it maintains a model of the whole organization and its environment.
System 5 determines the overall purpose of the organization. It is responsible for policy-formulation based on the “world-view” provided by S4. System 5 also represents the essence of the entire organization to any wider system it is part of.
I came to think how these systems would relate to the Requisite Control Structure that I have proposed and came up with the picture depicted in Figure 1. System 5 is strategic in nature and essentially specifies the contract within the organization: the overall agreement on how the enterprise is internally organized to align with its external environment. System 4 provides the actual adaptation to the environment through systemic reorganization (coordination), i.e. by changing the relationships between the systemic structures (S1s, model). System 3 translates the changes in the organization to changes in systemic structures (control) and System 2 carries out the coordination planned in S4.
Figure 1. Viable System Model and Requisite Control Structure.